Roman kilns discovered during nature reserve project

PUBLISHED: 3 October 2023

Colchester City Council has taken a step forward in its plans to transform Cymbeline Meadows into a large, diverse nature reserve. The 74-hectare site, which currently includes riverside grazing meadows and woodland, is on track to become a mosaic of habitats designed to increase biodiversity and attract a wide range of wildlife.

The plans encompass creating 0.4 hectares of wetland, 1.8 hectares of natural regeneration/scrubland, over seven hectares of tree planting, wildflower-rich grassland areas, an area for winter bird seed, and at least 580 meters of hedgerow. This will involve planting an estimated 8,000 trees, along with 3,500 plants to create the new hedgerows.

An essential aspect of the project was the assessment of the site's archaeological value. Archaeological excavations were conducted to ensure that tree planting and landscaping activities would not damage any hidden underground archaeology. Colchester Archaeological Trust was commissioned to carry out this assessment, which consisted of comprehensive excavations.

Intriguingly, the history of Cymbeline Meadows includes a previous discovery of Roman tile kilns in the 1970s. This latest archaeological excavation, which focused on areas designated for tree planting and landscaping, has unveiled more of these ancient kilns, shedding fresh light on the historical significance of the site.

The trenching, which began on Wednesday, 23 August, lasted 15 days, during which sixty-one trenches were dug in the areas of proposed planting and landscaping. Each trench measured 30 meters long and 1.8 meters wide, covering approximately three per cent of the project area.

Throughout this journey, the council has collaborated closely with the tenant farmer and sought advice from Natural England, Historic England, the Woodland Trust, Essex Wildlife Trust and RSPB.

Cllr Andrea Luxford Vaughan Portfolio Holder for Planning, Environment and Sustainability, said: “This is an exciting project that will transform Cymbeline Meadows into a haven for wildlife. We are committed to preserving and enhancing biodiversity in Colchester, and this is a major step forward in that goal. We have worked closely with Colchester Archaeological Trust to ensure that any archaeological remains are protected.”

More information about the project will be released in the future.

Page last reviewed: 3 October 2023


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